The rising popularity of pontoon boats across the United States is evident in the small town of Bolivar, Missouri, where Tracker Marine has reopened a plant it shuttered in 2009 and is now building up to 20 Sun Tracker pontoons daily.

While a majority of the 130 employees are new hires, some former workers have returned, including production manager Stephen Skopec, who has been with Tracker since 1989 and has spent the last nine years commuting to Tracker’s Lebanon, Missouri, production facility.

“We started at three boats a day at the beginning of April. We would do that for a week, and the next week, we did six boats a day," Skopec said in an interview with KY3. "When the opportunity for this plant came again, I was pretty excited, not only for myself, because I only live a few miles from it, but for everyone that used to work here," Skopec said.

State and local leaders toured the facility last week and were encouraged.  "This is exactly the kind of job growth, good wages, that we need in Bolivar, we need all over our state," said Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. "This is a sign of our economy beginning to get back on its feet."

White River Marine Group, Tracker’s parent company, also builds boats at several other locations across Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Its acquisition of Cabelas outdoor stores has provided an additional distribution network for its brands.